Sept. 16, 2015, © Leeham Co., Mobile (AL): The opening of the Airbus A320 Final Assembly Line here achieves a major set of goals set by the company 10 years ago for its own strategic purposes, but officials are also mindful of the larger impact on US aerospace.
Top executives point out that the Mobile plant reestablished a second commercial aviation assembly site in the US since the last MD-11s and MD-95s rolled out of the former McDonnell Douglas plant in Long Beach (CA) after its acquisition by The Boeing Co in 1997. Boeing continued production of the MD-11 until the end of 2000 (with deliveries occurring in 1Q2001). The last MD-95, renamed the Boeing 717, was produced in 2006. There were 200 MD-11s and 156 717s produced.
With nearly 10 years elapsing between that last 717 and the first A321ceo coming out of Mobile, Airbus officials say the creation of the FAL is not only good for Airbus and Alabama, it’s good for US aerospace.
As Leeham News and Comment previously reported, it will take years for the supply chain to develop a full aerospace cluster around Mobile, but David L. Williams, VP Procurement for Airbus Americas, sees an immediate benefit for the US supply chain—including from Washington State, where rival Boeing has most of its assembly operations.
Washington is already the second-ranked supply state for Airbus in the US (behind California), and it has been for many years. It now ranks No. 4 in dollars spent in the US, up from No. 5 a few years ago.
Ohio and Connecticut remain Nos. 1 and 2 because the CFM56/LEAP engines and Pratt & Whitney V2500/GTF engines call these states home.
Williams plans to be in Washington State in February at the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance, a supplier trade group, looking for more business from the state.
“Over time we more and more opportunities for US suppliers” at the Mobile facility, Williams told LNC Monday at the opening of the FAL. “It will take years” for them to locate here. Williams predicted it will be three to five years before a number of suppliers locate physical facilities here.
He also said “it is difficult to quantify” how much this facility increases the dollar footprint in the US today, a broader strategic goal of Airbus for many years.
Five years ago Airbus spent $10bn in the US; today it is $16bn, with suppliers in 38 states.